Brocade Sees Quick Ramp-Up of 100 GbE in Academia and Research

By Michael Feldman

January 10, 2012

Pent-up demand for network bandwidth at both the core and edge of the datacenter is good news for suppliers of 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) routers. And although Brocade was not the first vendor to market with such gear, it has quickly become one of the largest providers of 100 GbE ports, a lot of which are ending up in science and research networks. Organizations such as CERN, Indiana University and the Howard Hughes Medical Center are already employing the technology to power performance-demanding applications.

Although Brocade announced its non-blocking 100 Gigabit Ethernet MLXe routers more than a year ago, the blades have only been shipping since August 2011. In those six months though, the company has delivered 100 of the dual-port blades for a total of 200 100 GbE ports. That might not seem like much, but considering the total number of such ports is only around 1,000, worldwide, Brocade has managed to capture a good chunk of that market, which until recently was dominated by Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Juniper Networks.

The MLXe supports Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing functions and can function at both the network edge and the core. The system comes in four chassis sizes of 4, 8, 16, and 32 slots. It also supports multi-terabit-per-second trunks by aggregating multiple 100 GbE ports in a LAG (Link Aggregation Group). With its two-port blade design (and up to 16 blades per chassis), Brocade claims it is two to four times as dense as its competition.

The 100 GbE module is based powered by custom-built 100 Gbps input and output packet processing ASICs and a 100 Gbps traffic manager ASIC. The use of Brocade processors and a 100 Gbps data path through the router enable each port to run at full 100 Gigabit wire speed.

Although the 100 GbE standard was ratified fairly recently (in 2010), analysts are expecting a rapid adoption of the technology. Dell’Oro Group, for example, expects 100 Gigabit port shipments to grow more than 200 percent per year from 2010 through 2015. Infonetics Research is of the same mind, estimating 100 GbE port sales to have a compounded annual growth rate of 214 percent over that same period.

Based on demand Brocade is seeing for its MLXe routers, the company is expecting a quick ramp-up of the technology, according to Daniel Williams, director of product marketing, Service Provider and Application Delivery Products. But even he wasn’t really expecting the technology to take hold so quickly. “To be honest, I’ve been surprised at how much demand there’s been,” he told HPCwire.

One of Brocade’s premier 100 GbE customers is CERN, who deployed 10 GbE-equipped MLXe routers in 2010 to help keep up with the enormous quantities of research data coursing through the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) computing grid. Starting in November 2011, Brocade starting delivering their 100 GbE blades to CERN.

The early adoption of 100 GbE at CERN is understandable. The demand for network bandwidth there is nearly insatiable, due in large part to the enormous volumes of data generated by their LHC particle physics experiments — data which now exceeds 15 petabytes per year. CERN will almost certainly be expanding its 100 GbE infrastructure in the coming years to handle even greater quantities of data. As such, CERN represents one of Brocade’s most significant deployments of its 100 GbE gear, although the organization is coy about the exact number of ports they’ve deployed.

Currently, the largest installation of Brocade 100 GbE blades is at the Janelia Farm Research Campus, the research facility for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) , where 56 ports are installed. Here, two MLXe 32-port routers are being used at the network core, primarily to provide 10 Gigabit pipes to hundreds of desktop computers being used to analyze the neuroscience and imaging data from researchers’ experiments. The routers at HHMI also contain GigE ports that feed traditional office applications like email. Overall, the idea was to simplify the facility’s network infrastructure by reducing the number of routers and fiber runs, while delivering lots of bandwidth to the biomedical researchers.

The 100 GbE-equipped MLXe routers installed at Indiana University are being used a little differently, in this case, at the network edge to connect to Internet2’s 100 GbE backbone. The setup was demonstrated last November at SC11 as part of the school’s Data Superconductor, which is a Lustre-based, high-performance file system designed to operate over a wide area network. The demo at SC11 set a world record by transferring 186 gigabits per second between Indianapolis and Seattle (approximately 2300 miles), with each end of the link connected to a Brocade 100 GbE port.

Outside of the research realm, other early 100 GbE adopters include service providers, especially the internet exchange customers, which have to deal with extremely large data flows. Secondarily, the larger transit providers that hook into those exchanges and have a particular need for bandwidth — think Netflix traffic — are also hopping onto 100 GbE technology. Brocade is also beginning to see 100 GbE demand from metro providers.

In addition, the MLXe is equipped with special software for data streaming to support what is known as “telemetry applications.” Basically the idea is to aggregate, filter and replicate network traffic in real-time and send it off to servers that are doing ‘big data” analytics. Brocade has teamed with IBM and its InfoSphere platform to deliver real-time streaming and analytics of large unstructured data sets, such as video or financial data. “The ability to do that with 100 Gig links or even larger trunks is extremely compelling for many of our customers,” notes Williams.

In almost all cases, customers adopting 100 GbE routing are upgrading those networks from 10 GbE. That’s a big jump in bandwidth, and not one necessarily foreseen just a few years ago. A lot of industry watchers thought that 40 Gigabit Ethernet would be the next de facto standard for core and edge routers, but a lot of users seem to want to move directly to 100 GbE. “What we’re seeing in the research environment and even with our enterprise customers, is that 40 Gig is really becoming a niche technology that is primarily used in datacenters for aggregation coming from servers,” says Williams.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is built to run artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and, as Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Exascale System for Earth Simulation Introduced

April 23, 2018

After four years of development, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) will be unveiled today and released to the broader scientific community this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of Energy Read more…

By Staff

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Leading Solution Providers

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This